On this week’s USEA Official Podcast host Nicole Brown is first joined by show jumping course designer extraordinaire Marc Donovan who shares insights that you don’t want to miss hearing before you ride your next show jumping course! Later in the episode, Brown catches up with USEA CEO Rob Burk to discuss the latest on the Appendix 3 rule change proposal.
Brown and Donovan open by discussing how show jumping in eventing has changed over the years. Timing, the look of the jumps, technicality – there are lots of areas that have seen evolution over the last few years. Donovan said that horses jumping his tracks have gotten better and better, so the sport needs to evolve with the quality of the horses.
The pair then talk a little bit about what riders can do at home to prepare their toolbox for show jumping competition. Be sure to listen in to find out why a tape measure is important to have at home and a great exercise to be prepared for the event.
Time is often talked about during cross-country, but it is just as important to prepare to ride the show jumping course at an accurate pace. Donovan also suggested practicing with distances that are different lengths, so you are prepared to adjust your horse in competition.
What happens if you don’t have room for a full course at home? Donovan says you only need two jumps to properly prepare for an event!
The conversation then moved to Donovan’s philosophy behind design which his first point is that he always wants to make a jump or line that is jumpable.
How does the process of designing a show jumping course work? Donovan said his mentor Richard Jeffery was a master at making various tracks from the same course to help design various levels at an event and Donovan learned from him.
All the rulebooks (British, U.S., Canadian, etc.) have their own constraints and rules, but they are usually minimal requirements – like the USEF Rules For Eventing say you must have two changes of direction in a course, but Donovan thinks it is better to have three or sometimes up to five.
What are Donovan’s top tips for walking a course?
Read the course map!
Know how you are going to get in and out of the ring.
Don’t be embarrassed to walk any length of line – even if it’s 12 strides!
Burk then joined Brown to address the discussion around the Appendix 3 rule change proposal. The USEA Board of Governors voted to table the rule change proposal until the 2023 competition season – they are still fully committed to making a change to the Appendix, but want to spend the time to make sure the proposal is correct.
Burk was sure to extend a huge thank you to all of the volunteers who serve on the committees to work to make the sport safer. Especially the members of the USEA Cross-Country Safety Subcommittee who put an enormous amount of time and research into this rule change proposal.
Brown then asked Burk what members who want to get involved and have their voice heard should do, and he suggested starting at the Area level – reach out to your Area Council or your Area Board of Governor representative.